You've probably heard of probiotic and prebiotic foods. We tell you what they are and what are the differences between them.
L. Casei, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, inulin ... are terms that for some times have been advertised with great fanfare in advertising what are known as probiotic and prebiotic foods. But what are they? What differences are there between one and the other? Are they really as good as they say?
In this post we are going to answer all those questions.
Probiotic and prebiotic foods, what are they and how are they different?
Although it is easy to confuse them with what the name looks like, they are about different things.
What are probiotic foods?
The probiotic foods are foods containing live microorganisms that are able to keep alive the pass through the stomach and be subjected to the action of stomach acid, so that when they reach the intestine reinforce the intestinal flora. Obviously, it must always be “friendly” bacteria that produce health benefits, such as Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus acidophillus species. The latter have been used for centuries to preserve food through fermentation, as we already told you a few months ago when we talked about why we consume fermented foods.
Probiotic foods are recommended in cases in which it is necessary to restore or strengthen the intestinal flora as the elderly, to be following a treatment based on antibiotics, pregnancy, suffering from diarrhea, constipation or inflammatory bowel diseases.
Due to the ease that these bacteria have to stay alive in dairy media, the probiotic products that are marketed are generally milk and yogurt, although they can also be found in tablets and capsules.
What are prebiotic foods?
On the other hand, prebiotic foods are foods that, although they do not contain live microorganisms, contain substances, mainly sugars, that are not digested in the stomach and reach the intestine intact, serving as food for the beneficial bacteria that we already have there, causing them to reproduce more ease and producing an increase in intestinal flora.
The most common prebiotics are oligofructose, inulin, and oligosaccharides in breast milk, and many of them are easy to find in processed products such as dairy products, cookies, cereals, or natural sweeteners such as agave syrup. They are also present in foods such as wheat, bananas, garlic, onions, and leeks.
The difference between probiotic and prebiotic foods
In short, although the objective of probiotic and prebiotic foods is to strengthen the intestinal flora, the main difference between them is that with the former we would be increasing the intestinal flora by adding the bacteria that are ingested and with the latter we are providing adequate food to bacteria that are already there to multiply more quickly.
Probiotic and prebiotic foods, are they as good as they say?
Although there is much talk about its multiple health benefits, the truth is that there is only scientific evidence that they work in certain situations, but not in all that it might seem:
· In the treatment of acute diarrhea, probiotics can shorten the duration of it by 1 day.
· Bacteria such as L. Casei have proven to be effective in preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
· Probiotics combined with prebiotic oligofructose help boost the immune response.
· The probiotic strain of E. Coli helps in the remission of ulcerative colitis.
· They help in cases of irritable bowel syndrome by reducing bloating and flatulence.
· The Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus improve the digestion of lactose and reduce the symptoms of its intolerance.
· The prebiotic oligofrutose helps to increase the absorption of calcium, produces an increase in the weight of the stool and shortens the duration of intestinal transit, thus helping to combat constipation.
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